12 Feb 2014 – 6 Apr 2014
Lower & Upper Galleries
Entry with Day Membership
'the ICA’s painstaking recreation of Hamilton’s little-known early work shows a masterstroke offering fresh context and understanding'
- Jackie Wullshlager, FT
'If you are interested in Hamilton’s influences and his bent of mind then you may well be best starting with the ICA’s show of his two installations'
- Adrian Hamilton, The Independent
'Hamilton takes nothing at face value. And it is the profound feeling of his response that lends a fundamentally human and hence timeless dimension to his work' ★★★★★
- Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times
'At last, the British 'father of Pop art' gets the retrospective he deserves'
– Fisun Guner, The Arts Desk
During the 1950s, the ICA stood apart from a more conventional London art scene, offering Richard Hamilton an opportunity to curate pioneering exhibitions and participate in experimental events organised by the Independent Group, of which he was a key member.
Two installations created by Hamilton for the ICA’s previous premises at 17-18 Dover Street nearly sixty years ago have been recreated to coincide with Tate Modern’s Hamilton retrospective. In the Lower Gallery, Man, Machine and Motion (1955) comprises thirty modular, open steel frames in which photographic images are clipped in four themes: ‘Aquatic, Terrestrial, Aerial and Interplanetary’. Displayed in the Upper Gallery, an Exhibit (1957) was conceived in close collaboration with writer-critic Lawrence Alloway and artist Victor Pasmore. Organised around a modular hanging system, the intention was to give visitors an opportunity ‘to generate their own compositions’.
Archive material relating to Man, Machine and Motion (1955) and an Exhibit (1957), as well as other exhibitions that Richard Hamilton organised for the ICA during the 1950s and the early 1960s is also presented in the Upper Gallery of the ICA, providing a rare insight into the development and realisation of these projects. With subjects ranging from the life and work of author James Joyce, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's 1917 book On Growth and Form and the work of the subversive French artist Francis Picabia, they reflect the extraordinary breadth of Hamilton’s curatorial and conceptual interests, and indicate the lifelong influence these subjects had on his own work. Nearly all of the projects were collaborative efforts, and since Hamilton was teaching at this time at the University of Newcastle, exhibitions were often first presented there, at the Hatton Gallery, before being brought to the ICA, then at 17-18 Dover Street.
Hamilton was strongly influenced by early twentieth century developments in art and design that had mainly taken place outside of Britain. These included the radical theories and display experiments of Surrealist and Dada artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Picabia, the Modernist design principles of Bauhaus and the architecture of Le Corbusier, which was premised on geometric modular systems. His wartime training in technical engineering drawing as well as his service as a 'jig and tool' draftsman at the Design Unit Group during the war also resonated throughout his practice and exhibition design. In the post-war era he was an avid follower of new developments in art and design technology, looking to new techniques for visual communication and commercial design being developed in America and Britain.
Richard Hamilton was born in London in 1922. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools and Slade School of Art, and went on to teach at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He represented Britain in the 1993 Venice Biennale and his work is held in major public and private collections around the world.
Exhibition supported by Mulberry, with additional support from Christie’s and The Richard Hamilton Exhibition Supporters Group. Education Programme supported by The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.